Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Notre Dame Football 2008

Purdue Rush Offense vs. Notre Dame Rush Defense

Maybe it's a product of their opposition to date, but pass-happy Purdue has run the ball almost as many times as they've thrown it this year. 24 Kory Sheets, now in his third year as a starter, has been the workhorse for the boilers. He's accounted for 62 of the team's 100 rushes. Sheets' average game consists of 20 carries for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns. Again, that's two touchdowns per game - he has 6 total on the year. Sheets is averaging 5.7 yards per carry, a sign of his experience as a senior as well as Purdue's ability to call runs in the right situations.

Backup tailback 5 Justin Siller is averaging 3-4 carries and 11 yards per game. Fullback 44 Frank Halliburton has also seen a decent share of touches, averaging two carries and 4 yards per game. Quarterback 12 Curtis Painter has not been a threat to run, netting -5 yards on 16 attempts.

Notre Dame is surrendering 144.3 yards per game on the ground this year. If Purdue is still the Purdue of old, they mainly play out of the shotgun, similar to what the Irish saw from San Diego State and Michigan this year. Maurice Crum leads Notre Dame with 2.5 tackles for a loss. He is closely followed by Brian Smith, Harrison Smith, and Justin Brown with two each.

Notre Dame Rush Offense vs. Purdue Rush Defense

Notre Dame struggled on the ground against Michigan State. They are averaging 2.6 yards per carry - mediocre numbers against mediocre defenses. All three of Notre Dame's top horses have yards per carry averages between 3.0 and 3.5. Robert Hughes leads the way with an average of 13-14 carries and 47 yards per game. Armando Allen is averaging 8 carries and 24 yards per game; James Aldridge, 6-7 carries for 21.

As porous as Notre Dame's run defense has been, Purdue's has been worse, giving up 192.3 rushing yards per game. Of course, those numbers are tainted by a game against a run-happy Oregon team that went into two overtimes, and an All-World performance by Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour. Still, the Boilers did give up over 120 yards to Northern Colorado. Defensive ends 71 Alex Magee and Gerald Gooden lead the team in tackles for a loss, with 3.5 and 3.0 respectively.

Purdue Pass Offense vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense

In terms of talent and experience, fifth-year senior Curtis Painter may be the best quarterback the Irish see this year. Painter's average day consists of completing 22-23 of 38 passes for 251 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Painter is completing an impressive 59.6% of his passes, but I'm not sure what to make of the fact that he only has three touchdown passes - and as many interceptions - through three games.

Painter has distributed the ball very well between four main targets - wide receivers 21 Greg Orton, 8 Keith Smith, and 6 Desmond Tardy, plus Kory Sheets. The three receivers are averaging 5 catches and 50+ yards per game (Orton and Tardy are over 60 YPG). Each has a touchdown catch on the season. Sheets is averaging 4 catches and 19 yards per game. Purdue tight end 80 Jerry Wasikowski hasn't been much of a factor in the passing game thus far with only two catches on the season. So the Irish will need to focus on the receivers but not forget about Sheets.

Purdue is another team that plays predominantly out of the shotgun. Couple that with a senior quarterback, and don't expect many sacks from the Irish defense. That puts pressure on the secondary, especially Harrison Smith, who has struggled at times in coverage this year. Only one defensive back has an interception so far - Gary Gray - but Raeshon McNeil does have 4 pass breakups.

Notre Dame Pass Offense vs. Purdue Pass Defense

For a sophomore, Jimmy Clausen's numbers aren't that far behind Painter's. Clausen's average day is completing 18 of 32 passes (57.3%) for 209 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Clausen's efficiency rating is actually one and a half points higher than Painter's (120.19 to 118.6), for what that's worth.

Golden Tate is becoming the star of the Notre Dame offense, averaging 5 catches and 101 yards per game. But starting to emerge behind Tate is freshman Michael Floyd. Floyd is averaging 3 catches and 39 yards per game. The pair are tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions with 2.

David Grimes, who missed the MSU game with back problems, says he is 100% healthy again. Grimes is fourth on the team with 6 catches. Will Yeatman (2 catches) will likely miss this contest - and perhaps a few more - because of legal issues.

Purdue is giving up 234.7 passing yards per game, and has recorded 6 sacks. Leading the team in sacks is end Alex Magee with two. Fullback-turned-stud linebacker 42 Anthony Heygood leads the Boilers with 29 tackles and has one of the team's four interceptions. Cornerback 7 Brandon King and safeties Frank Duong and Dwight Mclean, Jr. have the other three.

Special Teams

13 Chris Summers is in his third year as Purdue's placekicker. Summers is 5 for 7 with a long of 45, and is perfect from inside 40 yards. Freshman 37 Carson Wiggs was called upon for a 60-yarder last week and missed. For the Irish, Brandon Walker is now 0 for 3 on the season, missing from 51 and 41 against Michigan State.

Summers and Wiggs have also shared duties as Purdue's punter. Summers is averaging 42.6 yards per punt on 13 tries, with a long of 59. He's had three punts over 50 yards this season. Wiggs has punted three times, averaging 32.7 yards per kick with a long of 38. For Notre Dame, Eric Maust is averaging 41.6 yards per punt with a long of 52.

Desmond Tardy and Kory Sheets are Purdue's kick returners, and each have 4 returns to date. Tardy is averaging 40.2 yards per return with a long of 68. Sheets is averaging 30.5 with a long of 45. All of those numbers are very good, and Tardy and Sheets will surely test a Notre Dame coverage team that has been solid to date. Ryan Burkhart is averaging 60.7 yards per kickoff for the Irish. Couple that with an 14.0 yard return average given up by Notre Dame, and opponents are getting an average start on the 23.

Armando Allen and Golden Tate are sharing kick return responsibility for Notre Dame. Allen has returned 9 kicks for a 24.1 yard average. Tate has returned 4 kicks with a 21.5 yard average. Carson Wiggs kicks off for Purdue, averaging 62.7 yards per kick. Three of his 18 kicks have been touchbacks. The Boilermakers give up 19.3 yards per kick return, starting opponents at the 25 yard line on average.

Desmond Tardy and Frank Halliburton have each returned one punt for Purdue this year. Halliburton is a fullback, so I would have to believe that his return came on one of Purdue's two blocked punts. His return was for 13 yards while Tardy's was for two yards. Armando Allen returns punts for the Irish. He's averaging 11.2 yards per return with a long of 22.

Notre Dame Players to Watch

Robert Hughes, Golden Tate, Michael Floyd, and Raeshon McNeil


Notre Dame 27, Purdue 24